Dear Commons Community,
In his New York Times column, David Brooks, evaluated the recent criticisms Hilary Clinton made about President Obama’s foreign policy. Last week, Hillary Clinton had an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic. The interview got immediate attention because of the way she discussed her differences with President Obama. As Brooks describes them:
“While admitting that no one will ever know who was right, Clinton argues that Obama might have done more to help the moderate opposition in Syria fight the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. “The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad … left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” she told Goldberg.
While showing lavish respect for the president’s intelligence and judgment, Clinton also made it clear that she’d be a more aggressive foreign policy leader. “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” she said, citing Obama’s famous phrase.”
“Clinton speaks as a Truman-Kennedy Democrat. She’s obviously much, much more multilateral than Republicans, but there’s a certain muscular tone, a certain assumption that there will be hostile ideologies that threaten America. There is also a grand strategic cast to her mind. The U.S. has to come up with an “overarching” strategy, she told Goldberg, to contain, deter and defeat anti-democratic foes.
She argues that harsh action is sometimes necessary. “I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets, “she declared, embracing recent Israeli policy. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas initiated this conflict. … So the ultimate responsibility has to rest on Hamas.”
…Obama has carefully not organized a large part of his foreign policy around a war against jihadism. The foreign policy vision he describes is, as you’d expect from a former law professor, built around reverence for certain procedures: compromise, inclusiveness, rules and norms. The threat he described in his West Point speech was a tactic, terrorism, not an ideology, jihadism. His main argument was against a means not an end: the efficacy of military action.
Obama is notably cautious, arguing that the U.S. errs when it tries to do too much. The cast of his mind is against intervention.”
I side with President Obama. The U.S. has to be careful not to get entrapped in situations where it cannot get out of such as the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The situations are not military conflicts but cultural and religious conflicts that have existed for centuries. As President said last week: “There is no military solution in Iraq” nor in much of the Middle East.